The Hollywood Reporter published an article today written by actress Alex Borstein, lamenting the oppressively idealized female characters of the past and beaming at the fact that today’s actresses “seem to finally be on our way to throwing off our heels and capes, and allowing ourselves to be broads, dames, girls and bitches.” Borstein, who has long been known for delivering Lois Griffin’s iconic “Family Guy” voice and more recently for being a star on the new HBO comedy series “Getting On,” begins by discussing how interacting with older actresses on set has inspired in her an understanding of the social evolution experienced by the film and television industry from the “ladies” of the ’40s and ’50s to “Bridesmaids,” “Girls” and “Weeds”:
Many of the actresses on “Getting On” are in their eighties and their performances reflect the freedom that their years have given them. These women, most born in the 1930’s, spent a great part of their lives being told how to speak (and when not to) and how to look (so as not to be looked down upon.) Is it a coincidence that also born in the thirties was the infamous “Motion Picture Production Code?” (Also known as the Hays Code, or as I like to call it, The-Uptight-White-Guy-Who-Probably-Never-Went-Down-on-His-Wife-Code.) The code basically threw a big wet blanket on everything and everyone in the media, in particular, women. No longer allowed to f–k onscreen, women had to settle for “losing their virtue,” “being taken” or “making love.” This inane piece of Puritanical bullshit also led to specific onscreen depictions of a lady of divorce; portrayed as miserable, bitter and busy atoning for her sins (because it must have been something she did that led a man to leave her, right?) And for f–k sake, a woman on the f–king screen was definitely not a lady if she used foul f–king language. She was either a woman of loose morals feigning power, or a flat-shoed lesbian. Or both.”
But Borstein’s anger and fury at a time happily gone soon subsides into an excited declaration of triumph to come and she concludes by remaking:
Thanks in large part to the success of movies like “Bridesmaids,” and TV shows helmed by and starring women (“Girls,” “Weeds,” “30 Rock,” “Mindy Project,” “Veep”) we seem to finally be on our way to throwing off our heels and capes, and allowing ourselves to be broads, dames, girls and bitches. I’m excited to be a part of what feels like a great renaissance of female characters. Real, unpolished, flawed and ugly characters who might respond to someone calling them out for not being a lady with a middle finger and a belch.
Read the rest of the article here — among other things, Borstein writes about how the female characters of the post-’60s sexual revolution from Wonder Woman to Xena, while conceptualized as strong women “finally released from the prison of being a damsel in distress,” still represented “skewed visions of how a woman should and behave.”